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Department of Psychological Sciences

Gwendolen Jill Lupfer, Ph.D.

TITLE: Assistant Professor

COMPANY: University of Alaska Anchorage

Advisor: Dr. Jerome Frieman
Dissertation Title

The feeding systems of social and solitary hamsters

Dissertation Abstract

The purpose of the current experiments was to compare feeding behavior systems in two related species of hamsters, solitary golden hamsters ( Mesocricetus auratus ) and more gregarious dwarf hamsters ( Phodopus campbelli ). In Experiments 1 and 2, dwarf hamsters and golden hamsters were presented with conspecific as well as inanimate signals for food. Only the dwarf hamsters approached another hamster that predicted food. The dwarf hamsters were also presented with a conspecific randomly with respect to the food, and the levels of social behaviors they directed toward it were significantly lower than when the conspecific signaled food. These results suggest that the feeding system of dwarf hamsters includes a social module but that the feeding system of the solitary golden hamsters does not. Experiment 3 compared foraging and hunting behaviors in dwarf and golden hamsters and categorized those as belonging to the general search, focal search, and handle/consume modes. Feeding behaviors were overall similar; however, as hypothesized, the dwarf hamsters engaged in significantly more social behaviors than did the golden hamsters. The dwarf hamsters also scent-marked food patches regularly, whereas the golden hamsters did not. These findings are discussed in terms of their possible adaptive significance.


Ph.D., Psychology, Kansas State University, 2004